Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bits from Discover Brilliant

I learned a lot from the Discover Brilliant conference...the last post referenced a little bit of it, and there was way more than I have time to post. But I wanted to mention a few things I learned.

One - I'd never really thought about the fact that the energy grid isn't really a storage mechanism...its a great big on-demand delivery network. So if power gets produced that doesn't get used, it generally gets lost. That makes me understand a few things more clearly, including why extra hot days or extra cold nights are so hard on the system. Of interest, a renewable grid might have more storage (for example in form of plug-in hybrids) and have more origination points.

Two - There is some talk about energy star like labelling of buildings. I mean we had things like Medallion All-Electric homes (is anyone else old enough to remember those?), but this is about efficiency and might be a useful scrap of transparency. A buyer might want to know this, for example.

Three - We don't have much information. For example, I don't know if my frig or my washer or my heater or my various entertainment electronics are using more power except anecdotally. A household measuring grid would be cool. Think RFID and Wireless and little bitty personal meters. Then expand that though into commercial buildings, which are starting to get there via something called a Building Information Manager. Although I bet a lot of buildings don't have them. Or don't have good, modern ones.

Four - for all the hype about alternative sources of fuel (and that is an important issue), there are easier and bigger gains in conservation - in buildings, around driving and travel, at home, etc.

So with that I'm out of lunch hour...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Cross-Post on Futurist.com

I'm attending days one and two of the Brilliant Green conference in Seattle. I got up early this morning and wrote a blog post over at Futurist.com on the conference opening. I promise to post more later - this is a really rich conference.

At the moment I'm hearing from a City of Seattle staff member mentioning how strong Seattle is on green building. I know the cities around Seattle are doing the same thing - working on green building programs. Lets hear it for us.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weeding the Park

I spent the morning pulling invasives out of Watershed Park as part of a volunteer effort called "Green Kirkland" that is sponsored by the Cascade Land Conservancy. The Nix and I walked to the park (which took an hour and fifteen minutes), and then she laid down and watched me (and was a very good golden retreiver) while I wandered about pulling pretty-smelling weeds and wondered if I was going to have energy to weed the garden (no). It took up two hours to get home, and Nixie held up better than me.

It seemed like a lot of people (there were around twenty-five or thirty) making very small progress, but at the end of the three-hour stint, there really was visible change. Mitigating climate change is going to be a lot like that.

Maybe I'll get to my own garden tomorrow. It has its share of invasives.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Local events for Seattleites

This is "Sustainable September," which seems to be catching on as a green event. A Google search finds an Australian site for it first. Well, in Kirkland, we have our own version of Sustainable September, which is sponsored by our Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with local cities and colleges. And as is the way of the world, one piece of knowledge leads to another, and at the opening event for Sustainable September, I learned about a Seattle area conference, Discover Brilliant 2007. Both local events look like good opportunities to learn.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weather Extremes

We just enjoyed a nearly-perfect Labor-day weekend, even managing to get a painting project done that we'd put off for a month because of an excessively rainy and overcast late summer in Washington State. We tend to do family check-ins around the holidays -- and the Arizona and California Cooper contingents both reported extraordinary heat. The California heat apparently played havoc with the power grid down there, and Phoenix has had a record number of three-digit temperature days this year.
Hurricane season is off to a strong start (Felix is heading toward land in Central America as I write this). Certainly there have been many other weather-related top news stories (maybe some chicken and egg, but the events have been happening). Floods in West Africa. Worse Monsoons that normal in India.
As a futurist, I generally avoid predictions (in favor of broader termed discussions about likely outcomes), but I'm willing to predict that wilder weather pretty-much worldwide. Even though there's progress on some small fronts and a lot more attention to climate change, we're still increasingly destabilizing a very sensitive system.
I think I'd best be sure out emergency stocks are good before the end of summer!